Poor planning by the US military before the “abrupt” withdrawal from Afghanistan led to the rapid collapse of the Western-backed government when the Taliban invaded the country in August 2021, a damning new watchdog report said.
The scathing analysis by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that the US decision to withdraw “destroyed the morale of the Afghan National Security Force (ANDSF), and that the 300,000 local troops were doomed to fail without American support.
It also details the more than $7 billion in arms and equipment left for the Taliban to use, and the widespread corruption that has dominated the Afghan military and government.
The withdrawal was “sudden and uncoordinated,” and left war-ravaged locals with the impression that the US was “simply handing over Afghanistan to a waiting Taliban government,” it continued.
The report also criticized the inability to create “an independent and self-sustaining” Afghan security force despite 20 years and $90 billion in US aid, blaming both President Biden and President Trump for the madhouse.
Poor planning by the US military before the withdrawal from Afghanistan and a lack of oversight contributed to the government’s rapid collapse when the Taliban invaded the country in August 2021, according to a damning new watchdog report.
Seventeen months ago, the world watched in horror as Afghans desperately tried to flee with flights from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport before the last Western troops left.
Horrifying videos show evacuees clinging to the outside of planes – causing some to fall – so they could escape the regime as it approached the capital.
The chaos left thousands, including locals helping to wage the war, behind as the US pulled out while the Taliban went on a rampage.
Just two months earlier, Biden had insisted that the militant takeover of Afghanistan was “not inevitable.”
“Together, with our NATO allies and partners, we have trained and equipped nearly 300,000 current serving members of the military, of the Afghan National Security Force, and many beyond who are no longer in service,” he told reporters.
“We have provided our Afghan partners with all the tools — let me emphasize: all the tools, training and equipment of any modern army,” he added.
“We have supplied advanced weapons. And we will continue to provide financing and equipment. And we’ll make sure they have the capacity to maintain their air force.’
But the SIGAR report exposed the holes in its assessment, painting a picture of Afghan security forces throwing down their weapons and unprepared for the Taliban attack.
Nearly $7.2 billion in aircraft, guns, vehicles, ammunition and specialized equipment such as night vision goggles and biometric devices were also left behind when US forces withdrew, the report says.
This includes at least 78 aircraft worth $923.3 million, 9,524 air-to-ground munitions costing $6.54 million, more than 40,000 vehicles, more than 30,000 weapons, and nearly all electronic equipment.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko warned that it is “probably inevitable” that some weapons will end up on the black market “given the ongoing conflict and the unprecedented amount of arms being transferred to Ukraine.”
Also among the devastating revelations was the fact that US troops often performed tasks that required them to train Afghan troops.
It meant that the local troops were underprepared, while the US military created an illusion of success.
The “sense of desolation” felt by the Afghan forces was fueled by Trump’s 2020 peace deal with the Taliban to bring troops home, SIGAR said in the report.
A Taliban fighter takes a picture of a damaged MD 530 helicopter abandoned by retreating troops at Kabul airport
The withdrawal was “sudden and uncoordinated,” and left war-ravaged locals with the impression that the US was “simply handing over Afghanistan to a waiting Taliban government,” the report continues. Members of the Taliban celebrate a victory in March 2020
The ANDSF had relied on the US to ensure their salaries were paid, but the 2020 agreement “made it clear that this was no longer the case.”
There was also a significant drop in US air strikes and local security forces lacked the “professional military sophistication and leadership” to replicate them.
“Because U.S. forces were much more effective in combat, they often led missions or filled critical mission gaps — close air support, airstrikes, medical evacuation, logistics, and intelligence gathering — at the expense of the ANDSF gaining experience fighting single-handedly,” ‘ says the report.
As a result, the ANDSF became too dependent on borrowed capabilities.
SIGAR also claimed that the Pentagon was not fully cooperating with the investigation.
The Pentagon insisted it was cooperating and disputed some of the findings.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Rob Lodewick, the Pentagon’s Afghanistan spokesman, told DailyMail.com: “The Department of Defense is well aware of SIGAR’s recent report attempting to identify the factors that led to the collapse. of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
“Since SIGAR’s inception, DoD has contributed to and facilitated their work – a fact reiterated in the first pages of the report.
DoD has again contributed to this report and has responded to SIGAR’s requests for information.
“While we object to SIGAR’s allegations of non-cooperation, and address them accordingly in our official response in Annex II, the Department will continue to facilitate SIGAR’s work on security and defense related matters related to Afghanistan.
The investigation submitted to Congress has led to more calls from Republicans investigating the run-up to the withdrawal and overseeing the huge financial aid the US has given to the Afghan government.
Republican Representative James Comer, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, told DailyMail.com: “The Biden administration was tragically unprepared for the withdrawal from Afghanistan and their decisions in the region resulted directly in a national security and human catastrophe.
“We are grateful to SIGAR for completing this report at the request of the House Oversight Committee.
SIGAR’s insights into the collapse of the Afghan security forces will serve policymakers for years to come.
“However, it is a disgrace that the Biden administration delayed and delayed SIGAR’s completion of this report by not responding to questions in a timely manner.
What do DOD, State, USAID and Treasury have to hide from the American people when it comes to US involvement in Afghanistan? Oversight Republicans are determined to provide answers.”
Taliban troops showed off their new military hardware during a victory parade in Kandahar last September as they celebrated the withdrawal of US troops and their conquest of Afghanistan
A Taliban fighter poses with a US-made Blackhawk helicopter of the Afghan Air Force at Kandahar airport last August, as weapons fell into the hands of the country’s new rulers